Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has yet to discuss his post-college football plans, but at least one pro league is interested. Could Clifford make it to Canada in 2023?
Clifford’s name appeared on the Montreal Alouettes poster fall bargaining list, joining a host of players for which the Canadian team currently holds the exclusive rights. The CFL works very differently from the NFL, so let’s take a look at what that might mean for Clifford.
According to CFL rules, each of the league’s nine teams maintains a trading list (or negative list) of 45 players with whom they hold exclusive rights to negotiate contracts. These rosters change often (players are added, dropped, and traded) and are normally private – except twice a year, in September and December, when league rules require teams to release 10 players from their rosters.
Clifford’s name is on the Alouettes’ roster, along with three other quarterbacks: Davis Cheek of Elon, Felix Harper of Alcorn State and Lindsey Scott Jr of Nicholls State. The BC Lions named 10 quarterbacks.
Since the CFL Draft is for players considered “nationals” (primarily Canadians), teams acquire rights for international players through the negotiation list. The league signs international players through this method rather than through a separate project.
“The system seems to be well liked by the general managers of the CFL and there doesn’t seem to be any desire to change it or make it more open,” according to the CFL Negotiating List FAQ. “The large number of players in the United States and the determination of their suitability and intentions make the trading list system more appropriate than an annual draft.”
Interestingly, according to the FAQ, 75% of players don’t even know they’re on the rosters (Clifford does now). Being on the negotiating list does not prevent Clifford from signing with any other professional league. It just means that if he chooses to play in Canada, he will start negotiating with the team he is on the roster.
“Players can notify the league of the negotiation window and if a contract offer is not received within 10 days, the player is removed from the team’s negative list,” according to the FAQ. “If a fair contract offer is received but rejected, the player is removed from the roster one year after the date of the offer.”
If he goes to Canada, Clifford could join former Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens, who plays for Calgary.
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In the meantime, Clifford continues to chase a host of Penn State passing records. He needs 1,566 yards to pass Trace McSorley as the program’s career leader and four touchdowns to top McSorley’s career total of 70.
Penn State visits Auburn at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday. CBS will broadcast.
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